The Big To-Do - ATO
FILTER Grade: 78%
By Kyle Lemmon on April 2, 2010
Venerable Southern rock outfit Drive-By Truckers just polished off a solid decade. They jump-started their dependability rating right out of the gates with 2001’s impressive, career-catapulting double LP, Southern Rock Opera. And in 2008, the Athens, Georgia, six-piece charmed our pants off with the country jukebox joint Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. In between, their sweat-soaked and beer-battered tableaus of “the duality of the Southern thing” shook off some of the dust accumulating on the concept of a dependable rock group. Bearing all that in mind, you can excuse lead songwriters Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Shonna Tucker for resting on their laurels with their eighth album, The Big To-Do. Familiarities aside, the bifurcated storytelling duo of Hood and Cooley dip their toes into modern-day barstool tales for the first time. Tucker’s contributions—particularly the lovelorn ballad “You Got Another”—are welcome divergences from old schema. Hood’s Springsteenian blue-collar anthems (“This Fucking Job,” “Santa Fe”) go down like a fine bottle of Jack and Cooley’s mirthful “Birthday Boy” and hillbilly two-stepper “Get Downtown” reticently echo the sullied character melodramas of past efforts. The Big To-Do’s melodies may be workman-like at times, but flair was always for the flame-outs.